- The Washington Times - Monday, December 6, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — This battleground state yesterday certified President Bush’s 119,000-vote victory over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry, even as third-party candidates prepared to demand a statewide recount.

Mr. Bush won Ohio with 2.86 million votes, or 51 percent, to Mr. Kerry’s 2.74 million votes, or 49 percent.

The 118,775-vote lead was closer than the unofficial election night margin of 136,000, but not enough to trigger a mandatory recount. Absentee ballots and provisional votes counted after election night made most of the difference.

“This was an election where you have some glitches, but none of these glitches were of a conspiratorial nature, and none of them would overturn or change the election results,” Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell said.

Ohio’s vote certification beat today’s Electoral College deadline for states to validate election results before electors gather Dec. 13 to cast their states’ ballots.

The presidential election hung on Ohio, prized for its 20 electoral votes. Not until the morning after the election did Mr. Kerry, of Massachusetts, finally concede — realizing there were not enough provisional ballots to erase Mr. Bush’s lead.

But presidential candidates for the Green and Libertarian parties planned to file requests for recounts yesterday and today.

Recount advocates have cited numerous Election Day problems, from long lines, a shortage of voting machines in predominantly minority neighborhoods and suspicious vote totals for candidates in scattered precincts.

A ruling by a federal judge in Columbus on Friday rejected one county’s attempt to stop a recount, avoiding a legal precedent that could have stopped other recounts. Green and Libertarian party candidates have already raised the required $113,600.

Both major parties have said they do not expect the recount to change the result of the election.

The Democratic Party also said yesterday it will examine reports of voting problems in Ohio.

Outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said the party will spend “whatever it takes” to study complaints from Ohio voters.

Mr. McAuliffe said the party is not seeking to overturn the result, but to ensure that every vote is counted. He said the study will be conducted by nonpartisan experts to be announced later, with a report issued in the spring that will recommend reforms to prevent such problems in the future.

Mr. Blackwell, a Republican, oversaw the election process while serving as one of several statewide party leaders who co-chaired Mr. Bush’s campaign. The 2000 Florida recount also was administered by a Republican secretary of state, Katherine Harris, who is now a member of Congress.

In a conference call with reporters, Mr. McAuliffe said the panel needs to look at the practice of secretaries of state serving as campaign officials. He said he personally thinks it’s a laudable goal for election officials to be nonpartisan.

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